I patiently disciplined myself as i scanned the posted review to avoid 
reacting to Prof. Tetlock's vitae:


"By avocation?"  How does he make his living?

Then i came upon the disciplines covered :  "[advanced ]

Upon which i concluded that the book's thesis is trivial.  None of these 
disciplines is a natural science, that is, a category of knowledge 
concerned with uncovering the natural laws that govern the relationship 
among elements of the category and their evolution in time and space (in 
the general sense).  They /may/ use scientific method (they should) in 
evaluating the category, but without natural laws no long-term 
prediction is possible and short-term predictions generally have large 
uncertainties.  Do not assume that i am denigrating the usefulness of 
any of these disciplines under appropriate circumstances.  Not at all, i 
am simply pointing out that to say that "experts" in these field have no 
success in predicting is a no-brainer.

In addition the content of these disciplines is about social entities, 
groups of people, the rules they make or which appear to guide their 
actions and interactions, their interaction with natural events, and the 
outcomes and impacts of these.  Consequently the content is culturally 
determined and its evaluation strongly influenced by the existing power 
structures.  Most practitioners in these disciplines are biased toward 
the hegemonic institutions of necessity (if they wish to remain 
employed).  Prof Tetlock may be a maverick, but his employment at a 
school of business "in the relatively young field of political 
psychology" does lead me to be interested in what he teaches the 
students, how it fits into the mission of the business school and if he 
is for hire to suggest to political candidates how they can psych out 
the electorate in order to manipulate them into supporting their 
candidacy.  I do know that psychologists in business schools generally 
teach marketing, how to con people into believing they need a second 
family car for example, or a medication with potentially 
life-threatening contra-indications, etc.

As for /Science/'s book reviews editor, she should have recognized that 
Jost's review is poor.  One seeks in a book review some insight into the 
content and the context of the writing.  This review is a bit weak on 
the critical perception side, i'd say.  But then Jost is no neutral (no 
one is), to wit "


Ah, salvation!  /scientific psychology of judgment and decision making 
/is going to correct for the many failings of rabbits and cows!

As for Balter's rule,  I am confident, that had Prof Tetlock interviewed 
scientists (practitioners in disciplines for which there are objective 
laws with reasonable stability over time and space) his statistics would 
have been quite different.  I do not deny that generalizations by 
scientists do not offer a stellar record of successful predictions 
especially when they speak out of their disciplines or try to make 
technological predictions that invariably depend on socio-economic 
conditions (Recall how Dyson recently soiled himself and how that 
skilled ant collector invented Sociobiology).  Maybe Michael you could 
modify Balter's rule slightly:   /The moment that an expert scientist 
says that something outside the core body of her discipline or a 
non-science expert says anything cannot or will not happen, it becomes, 
at that very instant, absolutely inevitable that it actually will 
happen. /Since the tongue was firmly in your cheek in the first place, 
it is /absolutely inevitable /that both this version and the original 
are wrong!

Regarding the merit of the post.  I believe that had you posted a 
critical view and offered this as a further manifestation of the trend 
to new disciplines which  /de facto /(note no conspiracy, no agent)/ 
/serve to rationalize capitalism, a vibrant discussion may have 
resulted.  This brings to mind a generalization that may be true: a 
reasonable indicator of the value of posting an article is how extensive 
a thread results.  Maybe my blah blah here will provoke commentary and 
thereby validate the post.  Maybe, maybe not.  Only the email god knows 
how many on this list-serve have already filtered out our blah-blahs.


PS  Now that you've cleared off your desk, would you come by my house 
and clear off mine.  It's a mess.

Michael Balter wrote:
> Shortly after George's most recent post, while cleaning off my work 
> desk, I came across the attached book review in Science which I had 
> saved. Although the book reviewed deals mostly with alleged expertise 
> in the social sciences, I think it applies to the sciences as well, 
> which is why I had saved it. It is also yet another illustration of 
> Balter's Rule, which is usually formulated as follows: The moment that 
> an expert on any subject says that something cannot or will not 
> happen, it becomes, at that very instant, absolutely inevitable that 
> it actually will happen.
> cheers, Michael
> -- 
> <>
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
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